Danielle MacKinnon-Allen's Story

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I have two daughters, Kinsley is 18 months old and Aselin is 4. Your children should never have to see you go through what mine have seen me go through this past year.  They have had to see me so sick, weak and in pain and in such fear for my life.

My name is Danielle, and last year I was diagnosed with a Grade 3 Astro-Cytoma, which is a brain tumor that is threatening my life. It all started in last summer. Intense headaches, issues with mobility and even confusion lead me to dentists and doctors to see what was wrong.

After tests and consultations, brain swelling was evident. It didn’t look good. In August, a mass was found. The mass measured 9 cm by 5 cm – it was big and it was dangerous.  A biopsy then determined that it was a grade 3 tumor, which meant that it was more serious than we had hoped it would be.  Other than the biopsy, surgery wasn’t an option due to the location, size and stage.

Cancer is scary enough, but hearing that I had cancer with a new baby and toddler at home was crushing.

Chemotherapy and radiation were my options. 45 days of chemo and 32 radiation treatments are hard on the cancer, but they’re also hard on everything else in your body.  Fortunately, we have a cancer centre right here in Cape Breton. I only needed to drive 15 minutes or less for my treatment. In fact, I was able to take an oral chemotherapy, and did that from the comfort of my own home. I didn’t have to leave my girls, my husband, or my friends and family for my cancer treatment.

Although it was really tough to lose my hair, gain weight from steroids, deal with fatigue and sadness as well as other illnesses due to having a low immune system, I am so grateful that I was able to remain at home where I could be surrounded and supported by my amazing family and friends.

The other scary part of the diagnosis is the likelihood of a re-occurrence.  The treatment that I’ve been through has been very successful and we are confident that it’s increasing my quality of life and giving us a sense of normalcy, but the treatment is non-curative, I still have a brain tumor.

Throughout all of this, I am so grateful that I was able to remain at home where I could be surrounded and supported by my amazing family and friends. It has been a really rough year, not only for me but also for my family.  I am still living with cancer.  It may not all be gone, but I am feeling better.  My family and community have gotten me to this point.  They have enabled me to have the care I need – close to home.”

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